Disney Cruise Line’s private island, Castaway Cay, is my favorite place on Earth. Literally. When you are having dental work done and the dentist tells you to picture yourself somewhere wonderful? I am on Castaway Cay.
Over the next few weeks, I will be doing a series on Disney Cruise Line. I will cover how to choose an itinerary, how to choose the right stateroom, how to get to Port Canaveral, what to expect when you arrive at Port Canaveral and board the ship, and how to make the most of your cruise. But I had to start with what I feel is the number one reason to book a Disney Cruise in the first place – Castaway Cay!
So what is it about Castaway Cay that makes me love it so much? Read on, and see if you are not booking a cruise for yourself by the time I am done!
Formerly known as Gorda Cay, Castaway Cay is located in the Bahamas, not far from Abaco. Approximately 3 miles by 2 miles, the island was leased by Disney from the Bahamian government in 1997. Since then Disney Cruise Line has created the perfect island paradise with something for everyone!
Average temperatures on Castaway Cay range from the upper 60s to Upper 70s, depending on the time of year. September is the rainiest month but it turns out that wind can actually be the biggest issue with getting to Castaway Cay. Because the Disney Cruise Line shops dock at the island (no tendering required!), high winds can sometimes cause an issue with docking. It does happen on rare occasions that the ship is unable to dock safely. This more likely in the winter months, but can happen at any time of year. (This is a worst case scenario but it is important to know. Disney Cruise Line will do their absolute best to make sure that guests get to experience this incredible port of call, but the safety of the guests and crew is always first!)
A typical day at Castaway Cay begins around 8:30 – 9:00 am and ends around 4:00 pm. What can you do with all of that time? Everything. Or nothing at all….
Activities on Castaway Cay
On Castaway Cay day, essentially the operations of the entire ship moves to the island. This includes the children’s programs! There are three primary beaches – the Family Beach, the Teen Beach, and Serenity Bay, a private beach for adults only. The Family Beach is by far the most popular. DPP Tip: If you are planning to spend your day at the Family Beach, don’t just grab the first lounge chair you see! The closer to the ship, the busier it is. It is worth walking down a bit farther and trying to find chairs or hammocks in a quieter area.
Scuttle’s Cove is home to the children’s programming on the island. There are scheduled activities throughout the day. So if the adults want to enjoy some peace and quiet at Serenity Bay while the kids are at Scuttle’s Cove, go for it!
The Pelican Plunge Water Slides and the Spring-A-Leak water play area for kids are a lot of fun. Keep in mind the Pelican Plunge requires swimming to get to! It is floating a ways out from the beach so strong swimmers only.
There are volleyball nets, tetherball courts, and some shaded pavilions that offer games such as foosball, ping pong, and the ubiquitous shuffleboard. (Is it even a cruise if you don’t at least pretend to play shuffleboard?) But my personal favorite competition on Castaway Cay? The hermit crab races help every afternoon!
You can even meet the characters on Castaway Cay! Mickey, Minnie, and their friends can be found at various spots around the island.
Oh and did I mentioned that all of the activities above are included in the cost of your cruise?!
In addition to the “included” activities listed above, there are also Port Adventures that you can add for an additional cost. From snorkeling to bike rentals, and even a Stingray meet and greet, you can spend your day seeing as much of this incredible island as possible. (Seriously – the Castaway Ray’s Stingray Adventure is one of the best port adventures available! At $56 per adult at time of posting, the Castaway Cay Stingray Adventure is better priced than those on other islands, and the price includes the rental of snorkel gear. After meeting and feeding the rays, you can snorkel with them!)
Dining on Castaway Cay
Castaway Cay is home to two dining locations – Cookie’s BBQ located near the Family Beach, and the Air Bar BBQ located on Serenity Bay. There are also multiple bars where you can grab a signature drink, glass of wine, or bottle of beer.
Relaxation on Castaway Cay
“But Sara! I am on vacation. All I want to do all day is lay on a beach with a drink in my hand.” I hear you! Truth be told, this is typically where you will find me on my Castaway Cay days. if you are looking for a peaceful beach, and either aren’t traveling with kid or have them happily occupied in Scuttle’s Cove, then head directly to Serenity Bay, the adult-only beach for guests 18-and-up. Accessible by tram, Serenity Bay has lounge chairs, hammocks, and umbrellas for guests to enjoy. The beach here is slightly more rocky, but definitely more peaceful! You can even book an Open Air Cabana Massage for the ultimate indulgence. (DPP Tip: Bring your sunblock with you and ask your massage therapist to apply it as the last step in your massage! The Bahamian Sun is no joke.)
Private Cabanas on Castaway Cay
To truly make the most of your day at Castaway Cay, I highly recommend booking a private Cabana. Cabanas are located at both the Family Beach and on Serenity Bay. Cabanas located on the Family Beach have access to a private beach. Included in the cost of your Cabana is your pool, float, and bike rental. The Cabana have a spacious indoor area with seating, a curtained changing area, a safe to store valuables, and a mini-fridge fully stocked with soda and bottled water. The fridge even has chilled wash cloths for wiping off the sand when you get back from the beach!
There are also snacks, sunblock, and bug repellent for the entire family. On the deck of the Cabana is more seating in the form of lounge chairs. And each Cabana has its own hammock. Each Cabana also has an attendant who is just the push of a button away to get your drinks, refill your snacks, or escort you to Cookie’s BBQ for lunch. (DPP Tip: These Cabanas book very fast and are often gone as soon as Concierge and Suite guests can book. Don’t give up! Cancellations are frequent and with a little persistence, chances are good one will open up. If not before your cruise, check with Guest Services once you board. There is usually a wait list that you can join!)
Have I convinced you yet? Castaway Cay offers the perfect blend of relaxation and beach activities. Whether you want to lounge with a drink in your hand, or spend the day exploring the island by bike, it is all possible on Castaway Cay. Did I forget anything? What is your favorite part of Castaway Cay? Share in the comments below!
Update: We have just learned that Disney Cruise Line has come to an agreement with the Bahamian government to leave 746 acres on Eleuthera to create a second “private island!” Given how much I love Castaway Cay, I cannot wait to learn more about this new destination for Disney Cruise Line.
And stay tuned next week for a post on choosing your Disney Cruise Line itinerary!